Right before I confronted the killer, this is the scene at Ye Old Coffee Shoppe: Mimi thought we should try the round glass-top wire table Belle has tucked in a corner. Since it’s further from the counter and other customers she figured it might work better for the twins. (She and Pop haven’t started to put their foot down yet with their antics. I understand. I don’t how they’ll react to having somebody who isn’t Mom or Dad say “no” either.
Mimi says, Sam, er, maybe you shouldn’t teeter?
“Maybe?” Really, Mimi? I study Clyde as he moves his chair around on the flagstones to teeter it like Sam’s. I take a break from scooping pumpkin latte froth; it’s still too hot; I scan the rest of the room.
The door swings open and the oxygen sucks out of Ye Old Coffee Shoppe.
It’s him. The guy. The one who ran the red light. I know it’s him for sure because I saw his picture in the paper the day after he murdered Mom and Dad. Black curly hair, one big eyebrow, whiskers, a faded jean jacket, work pants, and boots.
I watch him order coffee. Belle asks him to repeat what he said. Figures he would be a mumbler.
I see that he’s dusty. Looks like drywall dust, I think. How the heck do I recognize drywall dust, I ask myself, and a scene from the Way-Back Seat of my memory emerges like magic.
This guy looks like DAD looked that time he fixed the wall in my bedroom–before he painted the rainbows and Mom did the constellations. I play the memory out in my head as I stare at the killer ripping sugar packets. Four of them. That’s a lot of sugar, Mister, I think. While he dumps sugar, the rest of him doesn’t move. My image of Dad and the drywall dust comes clearer, like a fog’s blown away from it.
At the end of the bedroom project, Dad is covered head to toe with white. He looks like someone with ghost make-up.
Mom and I laugh at him. (It’s just the three of us at this point in our lives; the twins haven’t been born yet.) Dad chases us around and makes hooohooo noises. He was so fun.
This guy must be on a coffee break. I’d read that he has two jobs–a floor-polisher and shelf-stocker in a grocery store at night and a builder during the day. Maybe this is why he looks exhausted. Today he must have been putting up dry wall.
I watch him carry the coffee to a table. He pulls out the chair and sits down. He cradles the cardboard cup. He doesn’t sip, just looks into a middle distance. Suddenly, he puts the cup down and puts his head in his hands.
I glance at Mimi to see if she’s noticing either the guy or me, but she’s totally into twin-teetering.
I push my chair back, stand up, and go over to his table. The rest, as they say, is history.
(sketches by Ryan Grimaldi Pickard)